Turkey Flexes Military Muscles, Exercises Off Cyprus

(Photo: Turkish Armed Forces General Staff)

While saying it wants to reduce tensions in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Turkey will at the same time show off its military strength with a Blue Homeland exercise off Cyprus where it has warned foreign energy companies not to drill for oil and gas.

The maneuvers will include frigates, destroyers and fighter jets, will also take place in the Black Sea from Feb. 27-March, 8, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency reported, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues provocations.

The news of the exercises came as US energy giant ExxonMobil, one of the companies authorized to conduct explorations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was reported to have find a potentially lucrative gas field, which the government didn’t verify.

Turkey wants Turkish-Cypriots to share in any revenues even though they have unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades agreed to the demand, but Erdogan said he wants Turkish-Cypriot to also participate in licensing companies or Turkey will do its own drilling.

A Turkish-Cypriot energy official told Anadolu that Turkish ships will soon begin offshore drilling activities around the island. “We will protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots and take the necessary steps on the issue of natural gas, just as we do on other issues,” he said.